Do you know that instead of flushing urine down our toilets to wastewater treatment facilities, it could be recycled and used as fertiliser?

Africa: Could Turning Urine into Fertiliser Make Farming More Sustainable  #AfricaClimateHope

Yes, pee or even wee as some people say, may offer a solution as a soil amendment. According Business Insider South Africa, researchers say human urine can be used as an alternative to chemical fertilisers with some describing it as the “liquid gold” of wastewater. In fact, urine can also be used as a renewable energy source. The Africa Energy Outlook 2022, reports that there are still 733 million people in the world who lack access to electricity, including at least 568 million people in Africa. Scientists are finding renewable sources to power the world in more sustainable ways as fossil fuel reserves dwindle and carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise. Nigeria has been having electricity supply challenges for many years, making it difficult for households and forcing many businesses to close down due to the cost of fuel to power their generators, according to Voice of America.

The University of the West of England (UWE) with the Bristol Robotics Lab have devised a system that generates power from urine using a microbial fuel cell. The urine is directed from the toilet to the cell, where it is digested by microbes releasing electrons for electricity and a fertliser that boosts crop yields. The researchers believe the technology could offer a cheap way to power lights for aid agencies in the field. According to Oxfam, “the prototype urinal is the result of a partnership between researchers at UWE Bristol and Oxfam. It is hoped the pee-power technology will light cubicles in refugee camps, which are often dark and dangerous places, particularly for women.” This system could be used not only in rural settings where power and sanitation infrastructure is often absent but also in the continent’s urban centres where services in densely populated areas such as townships and informal settlements are also lacking. It could also relieve pressure on existing infrastructure that is not able to keep pace with rapid urbanisation as people search for economic opportunities. This also has implications for health systems, according to Nyasa Times poor sanitation accounts for 52% of the disease burden in Malawi.

In 2018, University of Cape Town students used human urine to create the world’s first bio-brick grown from urine. The students collected the pee and first made a solid fertiliser, the leftover liquid was then used in a biological process “to grow” what they call “bio-bricks”. The bricks were produced by Dr. Randall and his students, Suzanne Lambert and Vukheta Mukhari. But is urine safe to use in our gardens and farms? The short answer is yes. If the urine is taken from a healthy source, it’s clean and contains few bacteria.

Urine is made up of 95% water and 5% waste products. Human pee is rich in the ingredients commonly used in commercial fertilisers such as potassium, phosphorus, nitrogen, and traces of other nutrients needed for crops and plants to grow. According to Carbon Brief’s Giuliana Viglione, farmers typically apply these nutrients to crops in the form of chemical fertilisers. These fertilisers come at a high environmental cost since they are derived from fossil fuels. Chemical fertilisers when used in large quantities, are harmful to soil and insects and pollute water, according to a report by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

They also make their way into river systems and other waterways, causing choking blooms of algae that can kill fish and other aquatic life. Researchers say that urine diversion would have huge environmental and public-health benefits if deployed on a large scale around the world. As a result, human pee can be used to save water and contribute to sustainable farming. A shortage of chemical fertiliser, worsened by the war in Ukraine, is driving up food costs and creating a crisis for poorer countries, reports FAO, and has many farmers desperate and looking for alternatives. Experts writing for The Conversation Africa say the global food supply is now at risk due to the shortage of fertiliser. Many warn that feeding a growing global population in a world of climate change will only become more difficult.

Source: This news is originally published by allafrica

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